Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Acknowledging Safety in Physics

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Acknowledging Safety in Physics

Article excerpt

In planning a safer lab and reduced teacher liability, standard safety operating procedures need to be developed and shared with students. Safety contracts for students under 18 are not normally legally binding. However, a safety acknowledgment form alerts students and their parents or guardians that the lab is a dangerous place in which they must follow safety protocols. By signing the form, they are acknowledging this fact. Should there be a safety incident, and legal issues develop, the safety acknowledgment form can help support the teacher's defense.

Safety acknowledgment form procedures

The form begins with an introductory statement, such as: "The physics laboratory can offer an exciting opportunity to do science. However, the laboratory is for serious work, and hazards are present. Students must adhere--at all times--to the following procedures to help make the lab a safer place to work and learn."

Next, list both general and specific safety procedures. Some examples:

General lab procedures

* Listen and follow all instructions. If you don't understand, ask for help before proceeding.

* Only perform activities authorized by the teacher.

* Horseplay and pranks are prohibited.

* Food and drink aren't allowed in the lab.

* Dress appropriately, with closed-toe shoes, hair tied back, no dangling jewelry, rolled-up long sleeves, etc. Acrylic nails--dangerous near heat sources--should not be worn.

* Keep backpacks and books out of the way in a designated area.

* Know the location and use of the fire extinguisher, safety shower, fire blanket, and so on.

* Don't wander around the lab distracting other students.

* Immediately report any accident or injury to the teacher.

* When gloves and aprons are needed, they should be appropriate for the hazard and worn throughout the activity.

Examples of more specific procedures

* Heat lab: Never leave gas burners, hot plates, or other heat-producing devices unattended. Use caution when working with hot liquids or solids to avoid burns.

* Electricity lab: Use only electrical equipment having GFI-protected circuits to prevent electrical shock. …

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